Half Finished “Esperanza” Leaves Little Hope For Asbury Businesses
Standing amongst the crowds, ocean, and shops of the Asbury Park Boardwalk, the barren construction site of the “Esperanza” project remains untouched much to the dismay of business owners. However the structure won't be going anywhere soon.
The new developers of the Esperanza, I-Star Financial, has said they will not be doing any further construction on the site until the housing market improves. Instead, they are focusing on a smaller condo complex several blocks away called Vive, which will be no more than eight stories tall. Set for completion in late 2012.
In the meantime the remnants of the former Esperanza luxury condo development sits on the corner of Fourth and Ocean Avenue, partially completed with large rebar beams sticking out of the gray concrete foundation.
The site, previously known as lot C-8, was the home of an abandoned building for seventeen years until the original developers (Metro Homes) demolished it with plans to build the Esperanaza (which means “hope” in Spanish) luxury condos.
When the economy stalled, so did construction. There were expectations I-Star Financial would commit to finishing development of the troubled spot, however they stated the uneasy housing market wasn’t conducive to building luxury townhouses.
Diane Heleotis, owner of the Mayfair Grill near from the site, says the C-8 lot has always been an eye sore, and there’s development has never been able to get off the ground there.
“I’m starting to think it’s an old Indian burial ground because it goes up it goes down it goes up it goes down, it’s happened a couple of times now.”
Greg Laplaca, owner of Laplaca Potter sits directly across from the gray structure and blames the City for not holding the developer accountable.
The city should have looked for a developer that was ready to move and make a commitment to build something rather than someone that’s just going to hold up more space in the city which is classic for happening here.” Adding “If they weren’t going to utilize the space then they shouldn’t have gotten control of it.”
Dan Toskaner, manager at Silver Ball Musesum on the boardwalk isn’t happy with the state of the site, but understands the situation.
“The reality is with real estate being what it is there’s really no activity, Asbury Park or anywhere else these days for new construction or even existing real estate.” Noting “if I was in their position I think I would do the same thing. You can’t expect them to go in and build something that’s not going to sell.”
Groups opposing the structure have proposed that if it can’t be demolished, local artists be allowed decorate it or plant ivy and flowers on it. Store owners are weary of the idea however. Laplaca notes it just needs to be developed, regardless of whether it’s a store, residences, or park is built there.
Helotis just would like to see something done.
“I don’t care what you do, I think it shut be torn down and we should just put grass for now.”